Sale, the 13th-overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, pitched in just 11 Minor League games before making it to the Majors, and then he spent his first 79 appearances in relief. The 23-year-old has more strikeouts (121) than runners allowed via hits (75) and walks (41) in his first 106 innings, but the White Sox are curious to see how he'll fare from start to start.
And if the White Sox are curious to see what they have in Sale, the Mariners are every bit as excited to see how Hector Noesi will pitch. The right-hander was acquired -- along with Jesus Montero -- in last winter's Michael Pineda trade, and Noesi has delivered his own mixed results. The 25-year-old lasted just three innings and gave up seven earned runs in his first start with Seattle, but then he erased that memory by throwing eight shutout innings against Oakland in his next outing.
"I think, number one, the first start was out of the way, a lot more comfortable -- he seemed more relaxed," Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis said. "All the things we had seen of him periodically in games during Spring Training, but more so in the bullpen, was his ability to command the fastball and the changeup, throw his secondary pitches when he needed to and [last time] he was able to execute that."
Chicago is 6-6 through its first 12 games, but has posted a 3-2 record on the road this season. The Mariners are trying to enjoy their home field, meanwhile, because 18 of their first 27 games will be played on the road. After the Chicago series, in fact, Seattle will go on to play 10 consecutive road games against playoff contenders Detroit, Toronto and Tampa Bay.
The Mariners have just one player with more than one home run -- Justin Smoak (two) -- and they went into Thursday's finale against the Indians with 10 homers, just one more than the last-place team in the American League (Kansas City -- nine). Seattle also went into that game against the Indians tied for the second-lowest batting average (.239) among all AL teams.
The White Sox, meanwhile, have survived by being one of the top pitching teams in the league. Chicago has a 3.36 team ERA through its first 12 games, a statistic bettered by just three teams (Texas, Oakland and Detroit.)
White Sox: Dunn moving average in positive direction
Adam Dunn showed some signs of life over the last two games of the Baltimore series by springing for four hits and three walks. Dunn, coming off the least productive season of his career, moved his batting average nearly 30 points (from .195 to .222) in that two-game span, and six of his first 10 hits this season have gone for extra bases.
Dunn batted .159 for the White Sox last year after signing a lucrative free-agent deal, and he's struck out 21 times in his first 12 games this season. The left-handed slugger has had seven seasons with at least 38 home runs, but he's homered just 12 times in 134 games with the White Sox. Despite his struggles, Dunn has hit in the No. 3 hole in all 12 games this season.
Mariners: Jaso gets start at DH
John Jaso started his third game of the season at designated hitter on Thursday, but manager Eric Wedge said the left-handed hitter won't likely see much time behind the plate under the current rotation.
Wedge is sticking with his plan of using veteran Miguel Olivo as the normal starter and working rookie Jesus Montero in several days a week.
"Miggy is our starting catcher," Wedge said. "Jesus is going to get time as well. It's going to be tough to get Jaso back there. Not that I'm against it by any means, but right now I feel like we have to give the time to Miggy and Jesus. I still want to get Jaso's bat in the lineup from time to time, so that's what we're trying to do. He does a good job working and staying sharp."
Jesus Montero is off to a slow start for the Mariners, but he's managed to hit safely in all but three games this season. The switch-hitting catcher has only had two multihit games, and he's homered once in his first 42 at-bats. Montero has only played three games in the field, but the Mariners have kept him in the lineup by DH-ing him nine times.
The Mariners are 3-16 against the White Sox since the outset of the 2010 campaign and have lost the season series in three of the past four years.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen has made eight relief appearances in Seattle's first 14 games, tying a franchise record for activity at the start of the season.
The White Sox have scored three runs or fewer in five of their first six losses.
Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma is the last player to be on an Opening Day roster who has yet to appear in a game.